Category Archives: Maturity in Christ

Counter Balance

GTY_woman_on_scale_kab_140723_16x9_992It is Tuesday morning.  I awaken and the first thing I do is I head to the hall and step on some medical scales that will tell me if I have been a good boy or a bad boy.

These are not those scales with flashing digital numbers, these are the ones that have the two big blocks of steel that run on a slide and when the indicator is balanced, that is your weight.  My weight is measured by a counter weight on the scale. It stands opposing every fat cell in my body, and…  IT DOESN’T LIE!

My weight is determined by the counter weight!  Now that is worth pondering because the Christian life is very similar.

David, the former shepherd now King of Israel, rehearses this idea in one of his songs. In he draws the contrast between two seemingly opposing ideas, two counter balances.  On the one hand he sings of the omnipotence and omniscience of YHWH while on the other he concludes the song with hatred! It does not seem to be fitting conclusion to the song.  Praise then hatred. Strange!

How does one explain such contrast?

Perhaps the Lord gives us a peek here of his COUNTER BALANCES in this Christian walk. Both extremes are seen here, they are vocalized, embraced, and equal and acknowledged by YHWH.

My praise for the Father today also measures my hatred for wickedness.

David sees them both as something that compliments one another. After asserting, “How precious to me are your thoughts O God!  How vast is the sum of them… I awake and I am still with you,” he then concludes the song with:

“O that you would slay the wicked O God.  O men of blood depart from me!  They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take tour name in vain!  Do I not hate those who hate you O Lord? And do I not loath those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.”

And then he seems to challenge the Lord with this audacious claim by saying:

“ Search me O God and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

This appears to be so bold.  His hatred for the wicked is put up for examination before the Lord and he is completely confortable with the test.

The scope of Jesus’ majesty creates in me a single mind, a single eye that puts me at odds with the world. It surrounds me with His omnipotence and at the same time it surrounds me with enemies.

In our day David would be branded a bigot.  Hatred for any reason is politically and socially unacceptable.  But that is an illusion.  Hatred will remain among us until Jesus returns.

Now it must be asked is it wrong to hate the wicked?

David would think it is not.  He hates those who hate the Lord and then opens himself to the highest court for examination.  He seems completely innocent in suggesting that the wicked be destroyed. But how does this flesh out for us with Jesus’ message of loving your enemies?

First, it is completely impossible to love your enemies if they are not your enemies to begin with. I think this is the point David makes in his song. But I would ask, “Should they remain your adversaries?”

David hates his enemies because he sees them as enemies of YHWH. That is why we hate! It is covenantal to hate those who stand against the One we are in covenant with and love the ones who are with Him. David is no stranger to covenant and his comments reflect so. Yet, Jesus comes to broaden the covenant with an invitation for all men calling them to come and lay down their weapons of resistance and become sons of the King.

The surest way to change your enemy is to make him your brother.  For this reason we preach the Gospel to all men, men who were enemies of God but now are made sons through the redeeming task of Christ.

Secondly, Love and hatred always work in tandem with one another.

Amos put it like this, “Hate evil and love good…” () Love and hatred are like the scales I use each day to weigh myself. My weight is counter-balanced with the blocks of steel on the other end.  My hatred is countered by my love and visa versa.

The world will tell you it is “unchristian” to hate but I think the Bible challenges that notion.  Yet we are not at liberty to respond to this hate in the manner the world does. We as His children have been given the grace and the task to meet their wickedness with the love and truth of Christ.

We will not shrink from identifying the wicked nor will we reject them by being silent.  We will proclaim the only One who can change an evil soul into a Saint.

We won’t rant and rave.  We won’t use carnal methods to belittle or strike.

We will simply proclaim!   Wickedness will be addressed either by His grace through Christ or by His wrath in judgment. Either way it will be addressed.

One final note:  Are you over weight with either love or hatred?

Don’t get on the scales unless you are ready to learn the truth but then again you may be at the perfect weight!

HE IS THE PERFECT WEIGHT!

SELAH!


139:1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (ESV)

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Slackers and “Slack Takers”

Hello-My-Name-is-Slacker 2

There are two kinds of people. There always have been. They work in factories, teach in schools, serve in the military, fly airplanes, operate on people, serve in government and occupy office in high-rise building in the center of New York.  Many even go to church.

One group does only what is required of them. They are constantly seeking ways, very cleaver ways to minimize their output and do the very least possible to get by undiscovered. That thought can be troublesome if you are a patient!

They know about Jesus’ parable of the second mile but they consider that as something silly.  Some are just lazy but for most being a slacker is the clever way to conduct business. They call themselves dexterous or inventive but the problem is more sever than simple nouns can disguise.  They conclude it a victory if they can outsmart you by getting the most from giving the least effort.

We all know them and perhaps are even one of them.

Then there are the others.  These are the “slack takers!”  Something drives them to the head of the pack. Things half done, promises un-kept, tasks unfinished gnaw at them relentlessly.  These folk are not content with giving God the minimum. They are “maximum” people!

And so enters Epaphroditus, longtime friend and co-worker with the Apostle Paul. Here is a man who bears no fancy titles of distinction. He’s not in this race for the “perks.” He’s in it for something far more lasting. Paul calls him “brother,” “fellow worker,” “fellow soldier,” “messenger” and “minister of Paul’s needs.”  What a job description!  I doubt that any one in today’s modern church would have signed up for his job.  We want the title!  We want the respect and recognition, but not so for Epaphroditus.  Yet it is crystal clear that the significance of his life is far deeper than any title of esteem could convey.  But one title that could be given him is he was a “slack taker!”

Paul wrote it like this, “Because he came close to death for the work of Christ risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service towards me…” ()

The church in Philippi loved Paul but as in the case in many places their love was more easily talked about than shown.  They said all the right things but their actions were different.  They fell slack and so emerges the SLACK TAKER!

With personal disregard Epaphroditus fills the gap left in their service. Unknown, working while sick, never giving up and risking his very life Epaphroditus set the bar high for all future “slack takers.”

The price he paid was not to attain the applause of men either. These people in Philippi would have never known his sacrifice had Paul not told them.  But as it is with those fearless doers his actions spoke loudly! Loud enough to be recorded in the Bible for all eternity!

Things have changed little since then.  Today we still see them both.  My question is…

WHICH ONE ARE YOU?

 


30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me. (ESV)

Seasons

 

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Here in Mexico we live with basically two seasons, dry and wet.  On the one hand there is apocalyptic drought while on the other there is constant rain, flooding and travel detours.  But somewhere between these two extremes for a brief few months we live in the “moderate middle.”  This is when the flowers are at full bloom, the temperature very pleasant, the birds are happy, the grass green and the sky clear. There is a feeling that makes one think, “This is it.”  The days become almost idyllic. During these times if a cloud comes over the Lake one would think it is an event!  But…. “Perfection” can be boring! After awhile we start looking for the smell of rain or, writing our names on the back windows of our cars in the dust.

The point I want to make here is that life is not one continuing straight line of tranquility or struggle.  It is a wonderful mixture of both high and low moments, gains and losses, joy and sadness.  To put it succinctly, life is seasonal! We enter one while leaving another but it seems we are always in transition: fixed towards the goal but ever changing as we approach it.

I am changing!  You are changing! Does that scare you?  Would we prefer to remain the same and know what we are dealing with, or would we take the risk to change and discover the next season with all its adventure?

It would seem to me that the only danger we face is to stop the journey, make camp, and put down roots where we are.  I think then we would discover what real prison is.

Stoppage!

But these seasonal changes inserted into life by Him are not repetitions of the past. They are  paths to newness, a higher communion, a stronger divine hug.  They are the discovery of what did not serve me in the days behind and an entrance into an “other life.”

Take my hand O Lord. Let’s do this together!

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord when he delights in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, of the Lord upholds his hand!” 


23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way;

Psalm 37:24

23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way;

Psalm 37:24

24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand. (ESV)

Welcomed Struggle

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Self-imposed struggle has become an apostrophe, a footnote of sorts in this modern age of the church. We strive to reduce our efforts by diligently searching the easiest way to a goal or by using purchasing power to acquire a lifestyle of relative ease and comfort. Yet such weak pursuits give evidence all the more for our need for self-imposed struggle.

Paul does not seem to be focusing mainly on eating less or planning more exercise. He is pointing to the voluntary negation of entitlement, that laying aside what is lawfully his for the better good of others.

It is a rare thing indeed to see someone put aside his privilege in this day of acquisition and consumerism for the sake of someone else.

Perhaps the times cry out once again for such strange people!


22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. (ESV)

The Lap

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He is not a champion, no ribbons, no medals, but he occupies a place above multitudes because he is mine.  He came to us by way of the Veterinarian. Living in the streets of Guadalajara he was hit by a car and crawled into a friend’s restaurant broken, skinny afraid and alone.

His family was never found so he came to us and became a “Whitener.”  Meals were welcomed but such abundance was hardly known. You could tell by his protruding ribs.

He walked around those first few days in a daze.  Not really knowing who we were, cautious of the other dogs (who welcomed him to their bowl) he slowly began to adjust.  Through the process he latched on particularly to me. He would walk with us up the mountain and find his place at my feet.  But feet were not enough for him.  He soon found what he was looking for, a lap.

Now he owns it.

Bud is constantly by my side. He is there when I wake up and when I go to bed.  When we walk the mountain, Mandy, our Standard Poodle, will lead the way but Bud lags behind walking always by my side. The speed of the climb is not determined by Mandy but rather by his master.

When it comes time for a bath he grudgingly submits but when it is all over the play begins.  Nothing feels so good as being clean!

There were times when my work would cause me to be gone sometimes for weeks and weeks.  But he never despaired. Coming home after a long absence I would see his head outlined against the dark room peering out the window like he never left the whole time.  His head would begin to sway as his tail danced!  It looked like he was grinning. The door opens and I am greeted by pure joy!

Bud was not bought in a store or from a breeder, he was found and he seems to know it.  Always thankful for the slightest attention he lives for one thing, me!

My friend has taught me much. For many of us there were no accolades in our past to warrant being chosen.  Instead, for most of us we came by way of the “Veterinarian,” broken, malnourished, afraid and abandoned.  Colliding with cruelty we found refuge by a stranger who took us in.  There were others that we found different from ourselves but they shared their “bowl” with us.  We had become one of them.

In this new environment it was evident that something mysterious had happened to us.  We didn’t know what it was called but we knew it was real. Things were different. But most of all, the one thing that stood above all the rest was this “Stranger” who took me in.  We began to hear his voice.  His smell became familiar.  His spanking was hard but so were his hugs.

At times we could not find Him.  Long periods of absence were dark times but hope kept us at the window. There was no interest in the “bowl” or in the fun of “walking the mountain.”  All that mattered was “When will I see Him again?”  And then….  From the dark street emerges the One I love!  Our hearts skipped a beat and we could hardly wait for the door to open.

In He walks.  Majestic, filled with hugs and kisses we sit without formality rolling on the carpet. The long wait is over. He is here!

The lap!

It is on the lap where His hands just rest upon you, were you kiss them. It is there where you smell His breath, hear his breathing and stare at His face.

On the lap I am safe!

On His the lap I am home!

Controlled Substance

big-grace

TEXT:
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight”
( ESVST)

This verse is deeply profound, filled with meaning that we may all to frequently over look. It announces the unimaginable riches of His grace being lavished upon us beyond all limits. This gift super abounds! It exceeds a fixed number and speaks of extravagant excess. It is the amply Divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in daily living! And… it leads to redemption through a sacrifice, namely, the sacrifice of Christ’s blood.

It was the ”Riches of His grace” that inundated earth to bring men to Christ. No back alley, no homeless shelter, no corporate boardrooms, no elementary or college classroom, no place on earth finds escape from this divine invasion!

Yet, this infinite grace is not haphazardly cast upon us. It is not just a general “blessing” of sorts that is poured out without consideration. As a matter of fact Paul points out that great attention has been given to its distribution. Paul says it like this, “…In all wisdom and insight.” In other words He has given the abundance of the riches of His grace within the boundaries of His wisdom and insight. It is clearly seen that this gift was a deliberate and wisely calculated one.

You might call it a “Controlled Substance.” Given to aid, given to heal, given to save but given under strict guidelines and limitations, namely His wisdom and insight.

Looking at this I stand in even greater awe at the substance of His grace. It puts my salvation in a new perspective; I see what I did not see. Perhaps that is what Paul means in the next verse when he says, “Making known to us the mystery of His will…”

Mystery is uncovered and revealed to be Christ Himself.

So grace is not like a Christmas gift that was bought as a second thought or because of a sale. It is a gift with immeasurable thought behind it. This lavished grace is calculated and corralled by infinite wisdom, divine insight and mysterious love.

Enjoy it. Revel in it and… handle it carefully.

Controlled Substances require great care!

JWIII


In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight (ESV)

Going to Bethany

holy-land--bethany-munir-alawi  2

 Perceptions are quirky things. They are conclusions formed through our personal experiences – history – prejudices – fears – knowledge and hopes.

Sometimes they are accurate and sometimes they are not.  Nevertheless these perceptions are the end results of a unique filtering system that each one of us has, even Thomas!

The scene.  Jesus has been told that his friend Lazarus is dead. He deliberately waits two more days before starting out to Bethany. Earlier in the week Jesus and his disciples had escaped out the hands of an angry mob that tired to arrest him and kill him.  The event of the angry riot is still fresh on everyone’s mind.  The “mob” is an unpredictable thing.  It can be a passive assemblage of people and then turn into a dangerous weapon within minutes.  The disciples had seen its fury before and now Jesus says, “We’re going back!”

When Jesus speaks there is no discussion, no arguments to change the Master’s mind.  They know by now that He is not following the “whims” of man or desires of His own but rather His steps are to fulfill the will of His Father.

Vs. 16, “Then Thomas called the twin said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us go that we might die with Him.”

Perception!

His mind filters the Master’s command and all he sees is the crowd’s anger, Jesus bent on returning and a funeral for thirteen men.

But Thomas has yet to learn that Jesus is no ordinary man.

Perhaps he considers, “Who is this Lazarus fellow that would put us and our Master at such high risk? Is this man worth dying for?”

But perceptions as we mentioned earlier can be flawed.  Jesus commands His death. He will give His life at the right time but not now!

Thomas doesn’t understand and neither do we.

Jesus goes back to the danger of the crowd to raise the dead not be the dead!

A whole different perspective has been discovered. The filter systems are unreliable.

This all so different!

This is no ordinary man!


Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (ESV)

High Seas

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Headed Home

Zechariah is commissioned to prophesy to the over 40,000 people who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and its city after 70 years in Babylon.  Other prophets were used to encourage the weak to be strong and finish the task of rebuilding but it seems Zechariah’s task was different.  His message was one aimed at the heart more than the hands.

The people are hard at work. They have left everything to come back to their homeland; there is sweat, aching muscles and daily challenges, not to mention being surrounded by enemies that want to put a stop to the work.  Here enters Zechariah with a different word.

“Return to me … that I may return to you.”  ()  I can imagine the people wagging their heads thinking, “What! We have left it all to return to the promise land and you still want more?”

It appears that Zechariah saw something that we often miss.  Namely, you can be about the work and still do it alone!  The temple was a showcase of sorts, evidence of a people who had been hand picked by God for a distinct purpose, but Zechariah would not let that purpose be substituted by a lesser work.  Their purpose in all of their travels, rebuilding and hardships was to return to YHWH!  The message was clear, this task speaks of rebuilding, not one of stones but of the heart. It is the rebirth of a nation that has been given a second chance.

But these who hear his voice are not the only ones who will return.   There are others in distant lands that will hear the “Whistle” and come home, much like the prodigal son.  Yet, their return will not be easy.

   “ And he will pass through the sea of distress and strike the waves in the sea.”

In other words, coming home won’t be easy!  It never is.

My Prodigal child, do you think that that the sea will part, the devil applaud and all your old friends admire your response to the “Whistle?”  Be certain, they will not!  You have sailed these waters before but now they are unkind, harsh, and dangerous.  The prophet called it the “Sea of Distress.” But the One who whistles will not leave you floundering like a ship wrecked sailor in the storm.  You WILL PASS THROUGH and you will learn to STRIKE THE WAVES and arrive to your appointed destiny!

There you will learn to swim in the “High Seas,” not  in a child’s placid swimming pool.

Peter could have something to say about that!

Those at “Home” are waiting for you!

 


Therefore say to them, Thus declares the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. (ESV)


10:1 Ask rain from the Lord
in the season of the spring rain,
from the Lord who makes the storm clouds,
and he will give them showers of rain,
to everyone the vegetation in the field. (ESV)

The Genesis of the Cry

 

 

The_Scream

Sometime between 1893 and 1910 Edvard Munch was inspired to paint the painting you see.  These are his words…

“I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature. “

Arriving home he began painting “The Scream,” an icon of sorts for modern man’s anxiety. It is the wail of common folk in the midst of economic uncertainty, global confusion and political tyranny and incompetence.  The scream is increasingly becoming more intense, more raw.

But it is not new!  It appears as a re-occurring theme in the Psalms most clearly seen in .

Here the lyrics sing a song of an encounter between need and infinite supply, torment and hope.  It is a cry from the gut, not a swift eruption of fear or reaction to pain; it is something much deeper than that.  It is a cry of anguish, pathos, and torment: one of exhaustion. It is quite frankly very human!

The writer goes through four stages, layers you might say, to come to this painful honesty with YHWH.

is a remembrance of the times when…. It is more than nostalgia but rather a rehearsing of a history that reverberated with the great exploits of God in the past.  But accurate history detonates genuine praise.  Following the history review you see phrases like,

“You are my King O God,”

“Through you we push down our foes,”

“In God we have boasted continually.”

“We will give thanks to your name forever.”

Remembrance of the past exploits of God sets the stage for and explosion of genuine, heart pumping praise! But even in praise there can be pain.

The second stage found in is one of honest strain.  The distress is not removed by memories of the past but actually propelled by them.  This strain is the natural emotion that harbors the cry.

“You have rejected us”

“You have made us turn back”

“You have made us like sheep for the slaughter”

“You have sold your people for no profit”

Such honest admissions find little room in today’s contemporary church because we think it is a denial of faith.  Yet the Psalmist answers this accusation in “ I believed even when I spoke, ‘I am greatly afflicted.’” I would propose that in the depths of affliction faith arises like a “phoenix” out of the ashes and overcomes despair! Faith transforms the anguish to solid hope that is yet to be seen.

But the song continues. Now comes forth a defense, not an excuse but a solid defense based upon fact.

“All this has come upon us though we have not forgotten you?”

“…We have not been false to your covenant”

“Our hearts have not turned back nor have our steps departed from your way”  

It is almost as if the Psalmist is saying “Lord we have remained faithful but you’re not showing up like we thought!”  “We have done everything right according to plan but its not working out!”  One can feel the unprocessed emotion in such a dialog. 

The “genesis” continues. A question arises, a question that the Psalmist is not afraid to utter.

“Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?” (: 24)

This is no cheap shot at God!  It is a serious inquiry launched from a heart of pain but at the same time filled with distant hope!  It is a question that all of us at one time or another has dared to ask.  But, as often is the case questions convert to screams.

“Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!”

Now, anguish is released!  The cry is born! The scream is liberated!  The heart is honest!

In my own experience I have found that God is not offended by such brutal frankness. Unbelief is another thing but YHWH welcomes this sincere inquiry. It is welcomed so the One who rules all might answer it.

Jesus, the One acquainted with pain and grief hears and is ready to answer the scream of Edvard Munch and yours as well!

Parents always hear the screams of their children!

 

JWIII


44:1 O God, we have heard with our ears,
our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations,
but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
but them you set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them.

You are my King, O God;
ordain salvation for Jacob!
Through you we push down our foes;
through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes
and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah

But you have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies.
10 You have made us turn back from the foe,
and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You have sold your people for a trifle,
demanding no high price for them.
13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
the derision and scorn of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
15 All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face
16 at the sound of the taunter and reviler,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.

17 All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten you,
and we have not been false to your covenant.
18 Our heart has not turned back,
nor have our steps departed from your way;
19 yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
and covered us with the shadow of death.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
22 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

23 Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
24 Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly clings to the ground.
26 Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love! (ESV)


44:1 O God, we have heard with our ears,
our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations,
but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
but them you set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them.

You are my King, O God;
ordain salvation for Jacob!
Through you we push down our foes;
through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes
and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah (ESV)


But you have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies.
10 You have made us turn back from the foe,
and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You have sold your people for a trifle,
demanding no high price for them.
13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
the derision and scorn of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
15 All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face
16 at the sound of the taunter and reviler,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger. (ESV)


10 I believed, even when I spoke,
“I am greatly afflicted”; (ESV)


44:1 O God, we have heard with our ears,
our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations,
but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
but them you set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them.

You are my King, O God;
ordain salvation for Jacob!
Through you we push down our foes;
through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes
and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah

But you have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies.
10 You have made us turn back from the foe,
and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You have sold your people for a trifle,
demanding no high price for them.
13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
the derision and scorn of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
15 All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face
16 at the sound of the taunter and reviler,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.

17 All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten you,
and we have not been false to your covenant.
18 Our heart has not turned back,
nor have our steps departed from your way;
19 yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
and covered us with the shadow of death.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
22 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

23 Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
24 Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly clings to the ground.
26 Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love! (ESV)

Taste and See!

taste

The Mystery of Taste

He wrote it like this,  “O taste and see that the Lord is good…” David does this frequently peppering the song with outburst of praise.  It sometimes seems to just explode on top of you, similar to a sudden rain shower catching you by surprise.

The goodness of the Lord however is more than a sudden burst of good things.  It is more than a shift to good fortune, a swift deliverance from an inextricable situation or the sudden healing of my child.  Without a doubt his goodness invades hopelessness and turns the inky darkness of uncertainty into a shimmering brightness of a million suns!  It is often seen suddenly and without anticipation, catching us by surprise.

It’s GOOD! It’s sudden; it’s unexpected…  but not always.

Here David invites us to “taste” and then we see.

O Lord sometimes your goodness lies hidden from the obvious. It seems quite out of sight of the realities at work on the ground at work or home or at the garage.  No one would deny you are THE GREAT GOD, but there are times when the invasion of your goodness doesn’t come when I think I need it.

There are times when your goodness is not grabbed or jerked into my situation but rather it is slowly tasted.  I hold it and search it by tasting!

Slowly I experience this abundant goodness, sometimes for a year.  Then I savor it taking my time and tasting all the multiple flavors of it.  Tasting soon becomes absorption into my being.  Something is taking place, a change from the dark despair of what my eyes see to a brilliance lived out in another reality far above roads and trees and crowded cities with corrupt governments or the death of a close friend. I taste then… I see.

The scripture stories and my daily events of your extended goodness shine as a glass offered.  There is an appearance of “wine” in the glass but the full joy of it I cannot experienced until I taste it.

O Lord, I will come and taste your goodness that I might SEE YOU and not just the effects of all your goodness.

Then the “True Wine” will open my eyes to the “Wine Maker.”

You are truly GOOD O LORD!  Now I can see!